I think this may be the world’s easiest upside-down cake.
In a fit of optimism I bought three pints of blackberries at my local produce market. I guess I was thinking I might juice them for my column, or that Auralee would enjoy them by the fistful as she has in the past.
After more careful consideration, I realized that juicing blackberries would leave me with seeds, and since my project for Foodthinkers involves using the leftover pulp from juicing, I figured seeds wouldn’t be all that appetizing to most folks, myself included. Unfortunately, Auralee found that blackberries shipped from Chile in February weren’t quite sweet enough for her liking and I was left with three pints of rather tart, but pretty, berry-rejects.
Upside-down cake was the next idea that came to mind, since I love it so, and because I figured a little sugar and cake batter would be just what these sweet-challenged berried needed.
Oh happy day. I found this recipe (aptly titled, Blackberry Upside-Down Cake) just waiting for me in my Gourmet Cookbook and with a couple minor changes, I whipped in up in a under an hour.
Blackberry Upside-Down Cake, adapted from Gourmet Today
What makes this cake so easy in comparison to other upside-down cakes, is that there is no need to cook, caramelize, or alter the fruit in any way before adding it the pan. The batter itself is a standard cake-formula: beating your fat and sugar, then adding the egg and then alternately mixing in the wet and dry ingredients.
2 1/2 cups fresh blackberries (12 ounces)
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) earth balance margarine/vegan buttery sticks
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup well-shaken soy/almond/rice milk, mixed with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (my “buttermilk” formula)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line bottom of a greased 8- by 2-inch round cake pan with 2 rounds of parchment paper, then grease parchment. Dust pan with some flour, knocking out excess.
Arrange blackberries in 1 layer in cake pan. Sprinkle berries with 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and shake pan to help distribute sugar (if you are using summer-sweet blackberries, you can probably use just a teaspoon or two of sugar).
Whisk together 1 cup flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and mix at low speed until just incorporated. Alternately add flour mixture and “buttermilk” in 3 batches, mixing at low speed until just incorporated.
Spoon batter evenly over berries, smoothing top, and bake in middle of oven until top is golden and a tester comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.
Run a thin knife around edge of pan, then invert a large plate over pan and, using pot holders to hold plate and pan together tightly, flip cake onto plate. Peel off parchment and serve as is, or with vanilla ice cream.